CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Region 10 (Northern Mindanao) will train former rebels (FRs on coffee production as part of the Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment Cluster (PRLEC) program under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
In a statement Tuesday, TESDA-10 Director Ashary Banto said the FRs who lived in hinterland villages of the Northern Mindanao region will be prioritized in partnership with the private sector that ventured well in the coffee industry.
“TESDA, together with NTF-ELCAC’s PRLEC, has partnered with Nestle as this is one of the products of the discussion made in one of the cluster’s peace and development conferences,” Banto said.
“Training will soon be conducted involving our FRs and the indigenous peoples (IPs) because they have the most suitable areas for coffee plantation or production,” he added.
Banto said the agency recognizes the importance of equipping the FRs and IPs with skills to widen their job options and show them how sustainable livelihood copes with the fast-changing techniques and methods.
Other than coffee production training, the PRLEC also gives agriculture-related skills training to these communities because they are the ones that “most need” assistance from the government.
In August 2021, the agency already had a partnership with Northwestern Mindanao School of Technology in Ozamiz City, where 20 former New People’s Army rebels were trained in Shielded Metal Arc Welding National Certification-1 (NC-1).
TESDA’s Misamis Occidental Provincial Director Arlyn Bandong earlier said the goal was for FRs to have their livelihood or get employed once the training is completed.
“We wish we could continue to experience peace and order, and stay close to our families here on the plains because prosperity and hope of everything we asked for in our lives are just here,” she said.
In July this year, some 25 households at Matigsalog IP community in Sitio Natampud, Barangay Nam-Nam, San Fernando, Bukidnon, also benefited from the solar installation skills training of the FRs and received 25 units of solar lights under Project “Lamdag.”
The project was the output made by FRs who underwent solar installation skills training under TESDA-10 and the NTF-ELCAC’s PRLEC.
Bae Rosela Bolilao, one of those who participated in the training, said they will continue supporting the government’s programs after seeing the benefits they brought to far-flung communities.
“We hope it’s not only TESDA (services) that will arrive in our community but also other agencies in the government. Hopefully, there will be more help coming for our community,” she said in the vernacular.
The NTF-ELCAC is an outcome-focused group organized by the national government to respond and raise awareness about the evils of communist insurgency in the countryside.
The task force, with its whole-of-nation approach, is by far the most comprehensive and potent strategy conceptualized by the Duterte administration in fighting the insurgency being waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front terror organization.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)